Research led by Dr Michelle Power of Macquarie University suggests that antibiotic resistant bacteria have begun to spread to wildlife populations, despite these animals never having been treated with antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is a worrying trend, brought on by misuse of antibiotics amongst both human and domestic animal populations. It occurs when courses of antibiotics are unnecessarily introduced into animal feed, or prematurely stopped by humans, leaving only the strongest strains of bacteria left to reinfect other hosts.
These stronger bacteria can naturally migrate to wildlife populations via genetic elements known as integrons, which can pass resistance genes between different species of bacteria, including those commonly found in wildlife. These integrons can also be passed through water, making transmission from land to sea simple.
This trend not only makes it more difficult to treat sick wildlife, but could have wider implications on wildlife growth and development and general biodiversity.